Faith-Life by Eterigho Oghenekome Humphrey.
|Why forgive? Read the story below.|
Here is a story adapted from a Nollywood movie I watched back when I was little. The title of the movie is “Total war”; its story will explain this section. “Five years after the Liberian civil war, there was an assistant Pastor in one of the biggest Pentecostal Churches in Lagos, Nigeria. He was a Liberian; he was Pastor Henry a man full of the Spirit. Time counted, events unfolded and Pastor Henry found himself attracted to a Lady in the Church named Susan. His love for Susan was returned and in no time they were already known as an unmarried couple. In a matter of time, plans for a wedding had set off, a date had been fixed.
A few days to the wedding day, the only surviving family member Susan had, her elder sister Sandra arrived from the United States to partake in the approaching wedding. Within a couple of hours on her arrival, Sandra was introduced to her brother in-law to be, as ought. Behold her brother in-law to be was Commander Over-heat, a man she had known seven years ago.
Commander Over-heat was one of the gang leaders during the Liberian civil war. The same Commander Over-heat was responsible for the murder of Susan’s parents and defloration of her elder sister Sandra, thanks rape back during the civil war when Susan’s family save Susan were missionaries in Liberia sent by the Church Pastor Henry now serves as an assistant at.
After the traumatic experiences like rape and watching murders done for fun including murder of her parents by the hands of Commander Over-heat and his gang, Sandra had flown to the States that she may regain her self, for she was both psychologically ill from seeing her parents flesh torn by axe as their cries faded off and ill physically from torture and rape.
On seeing Commander Over-heat after these years, memories came back to her mind. The much desired to be forgotten past and its trauma had come fresh again. To add salt to injury, Commander Over-heat now wears robes of a gentle man, a Pastor for that matter. And now serves in the Church whose missionaries he killed. Worst still same Commander Over-heat wants to marry a lady whom he made an orphan.
With much hate, Sandra desired to expose the treachery she was seeing. She would not let Commander Over-heat get away with his evil. Well for the main time she tried hard to control her temper. Pastor Henry did not recognize Sandra; for through his past years countless families have been victims to his rape and murder. Sandra managed to successfully pretend to be happy while the introduction went on, while reserving her full anger for the next full service day since she had already conceive a plan to ensure full wrath falls on Pastor Henry.
The next full service day finally arrived. Sandra was welcomed back to the Church officially as she was called to the altar. She got grand applause as she was given the micro-phone to speak of how she had fared since her parents were martyred.
She raised her head to confirm that Commander Over-heat was present in the auditorium. Then she started to tell of her family’s ordeal in Liberia in the hands of a certain Commander Over-heat the notorious killer of thousands of innocent children and elders, the gang leader, the rapist, the thief, terrorist, drug addict, perpetuator of all forms of violence and what have you.
While she was still telling her story, Pastor Henry started seeing his much desired to be forgotten past being replayed, he began to realize she was once his victim. He could not bear more of Commander Over-heat’s cruel sagas, especially those he did to his betrothed’s family. He stood up heading for the door. Just as he was about to use the door, Sandra addressing the congregation put the final hit on the head of the nail by saying ‘Ladies and gentlemen, this same Commander Over-heat has deceived you all, pretending to be a Spirit filled man of God in this Church. As I speak now Commander Over-heat is in this auditorium and about to use the main entrance door’. Her last words were ‘Commander Over-heat, judgment must begin from the house of God’.
The furious congregation turned towards the door, behold there stood a pitiable Pastor Henry. Pastor Henry knew very well he had killed so many in his past life. He knew very well that he had raped so many virgins, but could not recognize this particular lady now pointing dangerous fingers at him. Tears of a helpless man rolled from his cheeks. The congregation now full of wrath and fury tried to hold their anger lest they rend Pastor Henry in pieces. The Church could hardly come to terms with the fact that this Pastor whom they had loved and been blessed through all this while killed their respected and beloved Evangelist, the father of his betrothed. Amid a lot of self control the Church called the police, Pastor Henry still got some blows before the police arrived to take him lest he was killed by unruly fragments of the congregation.
One thing that has not been noted thus far is that the General Superintendent of the Church was not present on that service day due to engagements with missionary activities.
On his return a couple of days later the story was narrated to the General Superintendent. To great surprise he seemed in support of the criminal (Commander Over-heat). He said ‘I loved the late Evangelist; he was my childhood friend, my bosom friend. I loved him than any of you loved him. Each time I remember he is dead I feel guilty because I personally deployed him to Liberia, only to find out in time that I sent him to an untimely death. Well I still leave everything to the will of God’. He paused for a while, then he continued ‘The last time I checked I discovered that the man you have handed to the authorities is Pastor Henry and not Commander Over-heat’. Then he concluded his words by saying ‘We need to ask this innocent man for forgiveness’. He departed heading for the police station leaving his listeners in disbelief.
On seeing Pastor Henry, before Pastor Henry could utter a word the General Superintendent said: ‘I know sonny, please could you forgive the Church for what we have done to you’. Pastor Henry was speechless. His eyes soaked with tears. The General Superintendent continued ‘I know Commander Over-heat is dead and Truth is that the man before me is Pastor Henry. Its true Commander Over-heat killed my bosom friend and caused harm to his family, but you see son, the man I see today is not a cruel, notorious butcher named Commander Over-heat.’ Pastor Henry marveled amid tears how he could be shown love despite these events. Just then the General Superintendent said ‘Let’s go, I have paid for your release’.
On getting to the General Superintendent’s house Pastor Henry’s first statement was ‘Will my woman ever forgive me?’ The General Superintendent’s reply was ‘Love has changed Commander Over-heat to Pastor Henry, He changed Saul to Paul, things naturally impossible are made possible through Love, son be hopeful’.
As time passed by, Love was already healing the wounds in the heart of Pastor Henry’s partner Susan. She has seen he was really sorry, and held on to Christ teachings about forgiveness. As for the elder of the sisters Sandra, who had witnessed Commander-Over-heat’s brutality firsthand and by far had lesser love for him compared to his Susan, she did not bring herself to think of forgiving him.
Amid Sandra’s objections, a new wedding date was fixed as time passed. Sandra’s mind grew sick at thoughts of the fact that Commander Over-heat was getting away with his evil. A great part of the Church through the General Superintendent’s teachings had began to understand that Commander Over-heat died about six years ago, and that they now have Pastor Henry. They had learnt that the old-man dies, and we are new creatures different from the old-man. It’s not a continuation but a death then rebirth. Our old self dies and we are born-again. ‘Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new – 2Corinthians 5:17.’
For Sandra, desire for revenge stole Love and understanding of Scriptural messages that the General Superintendent preached. She soon hated her Susan whom she labeled as one working for the enemy, just as she soon hated the General Superintendent and as many bought his ideas. In time she hated the Bible for condemning her desire for revenge. Hating the Bible means hating God. Forgetting that she is guilty of her own past too, aye everybody is guilty of a past and needs forgiveness.
In time Satan gave her a plan, she concluded that killing Pastor Henry was the only option for pay-back left. How foolish a Satan influenced mind becomes? He takes away sense of reasoning, denying such of clear picture of consequences of their actions.
In due time her plan became reality, Pastor Henry was murdered, or better still the ‘innocent Pastor Henry was killed’ by his supposed to be sister in-law, and for sins he didn’t commit, but for sins committed by Commander Over-heat. Some readers here may say, well that’s the law of sowing and reaping at work. But nay, not so because Pastor Henry had not killed anybody in his entire life, Commander Over-heat was the murderer, and Commander Over-heat died years back, rightly so. That’s the way Grace acts. Commander Over-heat was crucified on the cross in Christ more than two thousand years ago for his sins. Christ was innocent, but by bearing Commander Over-heat’s sins he was declared guilty, he was made sin. But in His resurrection Pastor Henry was born, hence the word born-again.
To end the long story, Sandra was sentenced to death for first degree murder by the State.”
Vengeance never brought her any peace; neither did it bring justice to her dead parents. No wonder the Bible says: ‘Judge not, and ye shall not be judged, condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive and ye shall be forgiven – Luke 6:37.’ Don’t take justice into your hands because you may not truly know the guilty and the innocent. No matter how well you think you know, there may be one fragment of the truth that you have missed. Humans are limited that is reality. It is not written on the face, it is written on the heart. We shall discuss the relationship between Grace and Justice in the next section. Read Matthew 18:23-35 for the parable of the unmerciful servant.
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